As expected, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Tuesday signed a bill that places a $900 million veterans’ mortgage bond measure before California voters in November.

The bill had been approved unanimously in both chambers of the Legislature.

The bonds would be backed by California’s general obligation pledge, which is why they need voter approval, though the 86-year-old CalVet mortgage program has always been self-supporting.

Supporters say more bond authorization is needed because new federal legislation will make many more California military veterans eligible for mortgages backed with tax-exempt bond financing.

That legislation extends the program to Texas and California veterans who joined the armed forces in 1977 or later. Now qualified veterans mortgage bonds can be issued to recent veterans in all five states that are permitted to issue the bonds.

“If the voters say yes in November, veterans who risked their lives in places like Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq will be eligible to join the more than 420,000 others who have bought homes with a CalVet loan,” Schwarzenegger said at the signing ceremony. “California voters have passed similar measures 26 times before and I’m absolutely confident that our gratitude for our brave men and women in uniform is as strong as ever.”

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